Frederick C Davis: It’s difficult not to picture him as Stephen Thatcher after seeing this picture.
Balladeer’s Blog’s 2020 theme of Top Twenty lists continues with this look at the 20 best pulp stories featuring Frederick C Davis’ hero the Moon Man (1933-1937). The Moon Man was really police detective Stephen Thatcher, who often circumvented the massive corruption in Great City by taking the law into his own hands.
Donning a black outfit and a helmet made of one-way Argus-glass, Thatcher went into action as the Moon Man, defeating and robbing criminals – both blue-collar AND white-collar – and using their ill-gotten gains to help the suffering poor of the city. This made him hunted by both the crooks and the cops years before the Green Hornet came along. For more on the Moon Man click HERE
THE SINISTER SPHERE
Villains: Crooked millionaire Martin Richmond and Kent Atwell, who is embezzling from a charity.
Story: This very first Moon Man story perfectly establishes the background of the tales. The Moon Man robs from a crooked millionaire and has his sidekick Angel (Ned Dargan) distribute the loot among Great City’s poor. Stephen Thatcher’s lady love Sue McEwen has no idea her beau is the romantic Moon Man.
Sue’s father Gil and Stephen’s father Peter are the city’s top cops and have been trying to catch the elusive Robin Hood figure for months. MM also recovers thousands of dollars stolen from a charity by a white-collar criminal.
THE SILVER SECRET
Villain: Corrupt Judge Benjamin, Great City’s secret crime boss. Continue reading
THE ADVENTURES OF NICK CARTER (1972) – Rest in peace, Robert Conrad. For decades, rugged sex symbol Robert Conrad embodied the old expression “women want him and men want to BE him.” My sister Debbie was a huge fan of Robert’s incredibly tight pants and frequently-bared chest.
Thanks to television, home video and the internet, generations of viewers have been treated to Conrad’s memorable portrayals of heroes like old west Secret Service Agent Jim West on Wild, Wild West, real-life World War Two flying ace Greg “Pappy” Boyington on Black Sheep Squadron, secret agent T.R. Sloane on A Man Called Sloane and French trapper Pasquanel on the mini-series Centennial. (“Mawn uh-MEE!”)
A few years after Wild, Wild West went off the air, Conrad starred in this pilot film for a tv series based on old Dime Novel and Pulp hero Nick Carter.
Carter had been around since the 1880s but, presumably to avoid too much resemblance to Wild, Wild West, The Adventures of Nick Carter was set around 1920 instead. Continue reading
Balladeer’s Blog presents another Top Twenty list for 2020. This time it’s a look at the 20 Best Silver John Stories. If you’re not familiar with this neglected Pulp Hero created by Manly Wade Wellman, Silver John was a wandering musician who battled evil supernatural forces in the Appalachian Mountains of yore. His nickname comes from his pure silver guitar strings and the silver coins he wields in his war against darkness. Think Orpheus meets Kolchak. For more info click HERE
O, UGLY BIRD! – In this debut Silver John story the heroic balladeer squares off against a vile man named Osmer. That villain dominates an isolated mountain community through his ability to send forth his soul in the form of a giant, hideous bird to prey on any who oppose him.
THE DESRICK ON YANDRO – Desricks are old mountain cabins dating back to Colonial times. Such cabins were heavily fortified against potential attacks from hostile Native Americans or wild animals. This particular desrick houses a powerful old witch and is guarded by a virtual army of horrific monsters. Silver John must face the Bammat (the last of the woolly mammoths) and the Toller (a deadly winged creature), plus others called the Culverin, the Flat, the Skim and the Behinder. Continue reading
THE ADVENTURES OF AN ENGINEER (1898) – Written by Weatherby Chesney, better known as C.J. Cutcliffe Hyne. This is a collection of short stories about the scientific adventurer Richard Felton.
Part pulp hero and part proto-Quatermass, Felton’s escapades also put one in mind of Quentin E Deverill from the cult show Q.E.D. aka Mastermind. Seventeen stories are featured in this collection, among them:
THE RULER OF THE WORLD – Felton is persuaded by his old friend Braithwaite to construct a super-scientific aircraft for him. Richard does so, and after a test-flight with Braithwaite to demonstrate how deadly the flying machine is, the latter reveals his megalomaniacal plans to use the aircraft in a Roburesque plan to conquer the world. Our hero must try to stop him, even if it means destroying his own creation. Continue reading
After my 9th anniversary post for Balladeer’s Blog on the 21st I got reader requests to centralize some links for the Lost Flashman Papers blog posts that I’ve done. So here we go:
Lee Horsley: If British, the perfect Flashman.
FLASHMAN DOWN UNDER – Time Period: 1850-1852. Features Harry’s adventures during the early days of the Australian Gold Rush. CLICK HERE
FLASHMAN IN THE OPIUM WAR – Time Period: 1859-1860. Covers Flashman’s escapades in China during the Second Opium War, ending just before Flashman and the Dragon would begin. CLICK HERE
FLASHMAN AND THE KINGS – Time Period: 1860-1861. Phoebe Carpenter and her husband drag Harry into the Taranaki War in New Zealand. CLICK HERE
THE BATTLE CRY OF FLASHMAN – Time Period: 1862-1863. How Flashman – for entirely selfish reasons while being blackmailed by President Abraham Lincoln and Alan Pinkerton – secretly prevented Great Britain from recognizing the Confederate States of America. CLICK HERE
FLASHMAN ON THE GOLD COAST – Time Period: 1873-1874. Chronicles Sir Harry’s exploits during the Third Ashanti War, serving under General Garnet Wolseley. CLICK HERE
FLASHMAN OF ARABIA – Time Period: 1852-1854. Harry’s exotic adventures after getting separated from Richard Burton, the famous explorer, during Burton’s covert journey to Mecca and Medina while disguised as a Muslim pilgrim. CLICK HERE
FLASHMAN’S GUIANA – Time Period: 1876-1877. Sir Harry and his wife Elspeth leave America behind them, only to get caught up in a search for gold in the region of British Guiana being fought over by Venezuela and Great Britain. CLICK HERE
For Flashman Down Under, Flashman in the Opium War & Flashman and the Kings click HERE For Flashman on the Gold Coast click HERE For Flashman of Arabia click HERE
Balladeer’s Blog now moves on to another Harry Flashman adventure never completed before George MacDonald Fraser’s death.
IF HE WAS BRITISH, LEE HORSLEY WOULD HAVE MADE A PERFECT HARRY FLASHMAN.
Projected Title: FLASHMAN’S GUIANA
Time Period: 1876-1877
NOTE: The title Flashman’s Guiana is a play on “Booker’s Guiana,” as the colony of British Guiana (19th century spelling) was often sardonically referred to in the 1800s. That reference came about from the way the Booker business empire virtually ran the colony. From a 21st Century standpoint we might look on it in a sinister Weyland-Yutani way.
… Strictly for storytelling purposes, of course, if you’re a lawyer representing the Booker Group. Honest. Really. (Although after this latest merger I don’t know if anybody would still care.) Anyway, as you readers have requested, this time I’ll establish the action then go back to detail the setup.
The Action: Sir Harry Flashman and his wife Elspeth visit British Guiana right after their American Tour ended in August, 1876. A combination of Her Majesty’s Government’s interests and Flashman’s own hunger for large amounts of filthy luchre to sustain his and Elspeth’s grand new lifestyle wind up launching the British blackguard into his latest adventure.
Sword and pistols in hand, Harry leaves Elspeth back in the capital city of Georgetown while he takes part in a covert search for gold in the jungle region disputed by Great Britain and Venezuela. Continue reading
For Flashman Down Under, Flashman in the Opium War & Flashman and the Kings click HERE For Flashman on the Gold Coast click HERE . Balladeer’s Blog now moves on to another Harry Flashman adventure referred to but never completed before George MacDonald Fraser’s death.
IF HE WAS BRITISH, LEE HORSLEY WOULD HAVE MADE A PERFECT HARRY FLASHMAN.
Projected Title: FLASHMAN OF ARABIA
Time Period: 1852-1854
The Setup: Sometime in the second half of 1852 Harry Flashman at last arrives back in England from his travels which began in 1848. The scandals he fled have fallen into relative obscurity and he’s getting some positive acclaim over his recent experiences during the Australian Gold Rush and earlier participation in a wagon train across America.
In addition he’s finally gotten to see his son “Havvy” (not Harry), the child his wife Elspeth was pregnant with when his travels began.
The Story: The one and only Richard Burton, viewing Harry as a kindred spirit, reaches out via correspondence and personally to encourage Flashman to write some papers and deliver public talks about his journey through America and Australia. Always ready to play to his public, and now discovering the raconteur side of his personality, Harry writes a (very) bowdlerized account of his adventures of the past four years and even delivers a few talks at which he meets Burton in person.
The duo enjoy diving into the darker and more forbidden side of life where sex, booze and other diversions are concerned. Flashman happens to be with Burton in Egypt in early 1853 when the famous explorer begins his journey to Medina and Mecca disguised as a Muslim.
We will learn he originally invited Harry to accompany him, since our protagonist was fluent in the necessary languages and was well-versed in Muslim customs from his military service in Afghanistan in the early 1840s. Flashman would have initially turned down the offer and stayed behind in Egypt until, getting into his usual trouble from boozing, whoring and gambling he would wind up fleeing for his life. Continue reading